What is Mindfulness-Based Treatment

 

Even with all the press out there these days about Mindfulness, it can still be confusing.  Mindfulness is basically experiencing the present moment fully without trying to change the experience (i.e. not trying to push anything away or to hang onto any particular experience).  Flexibility of attention is important, too.  You can be engrossed in the experience of playing a video game, but if attention isn't flexible, you might be oblivious to that smell of smoke indicating that the house is on fire.

 

How is this helpful for those suffering from anxiety?  You might have had the experience of feeling anxious and having your thoughts spinning around and around about what might happen.  Anxiety is very future-oriented.  Even if we're worried about how we acted during a party, the worries are basically about whether people will want to hang out with us in the future.  So, being able to intentionally return one's attention to the present moment can short circuit the endless loops of thought.  

 

Another benefit of practicing Mindfulness is the ability to be less distressed by the physical sensations that are a part of anxiety.  While it doesn't make the sensations pleasant, it does get rid of the urgent need to change or get rid of them.  This makes it much easier to resist doing unhelpful behaviors such as compulsions.  

 

 

I incorporate many of the aspects of Mindfulness-Based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ("ACT") into my work.  The article below gives a good introduction into ACT.   Sometimes people worry that they need to already practice Mindfulness or meditation, but no need!  As appropriate, I introduce and teach Mindfulness and Meditation as an integrated part of treatment. 

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